Throughout the ages human beings have sought Enlightenment, but today only a few people seek Enlightenment. In the future there will be numerable, countless beings who will seek Enlightenment.
Throughout the ages human beings have sought Enlightenment, but today only a few people seek Enlightenment. In the future there will be numerable, countless beings who will seek Enlightenment.
The journey that we make toward Enlightenment is called self-discovery. Self-discovery comes in so many different forms and formats; the form varies according to the individual. The format is the path that you walk upon. But for every ending there is a new beginning.
The world is filled with frustration, doubt, ignorance, hatred, fear, oppression, and repression. The world is also made of pure beauty and light. We can say that the world, this grand stage that we walk upon, that we call Earth, life, this life, is a field of action, a screen, a place to dream many different dreams. All of our successive lifetimes are dreams, and yet they are real dreams.
The pathway to Enlightenment is not necessarily very long, in retrospect. For one who is seeking Enlightenment it seems endless – something that will never happen, that only happens to a chosen few. And it's true. Enlightenment only happens to a chosen few. So, if we could find out who is choosing and have a serious talk with the one who is doing the choosing, it might be possible for us to become part of the chosen few.
However, I have to speak out for the unenlightened. I think it is necessary to be the defense counsel this evening, or any evening, for those who avoid Enlightenment. Because I think of all actions which are noble and fruitful, this is perhaps the most ridiculous. But if we have a broad understanding of life, and if we have a heart that is big enough to accept the diversity of existence, beyond the noble, within and without reason, then some of the following may make sense.
Why shouldn't you attain Enlightenment? There is really no reason to attain Enlightenment. Since we all know philosophically that we all are Enlightenment, at least that's what Enlightened people say. Yet you know that that's not true, which means that all Enlightened people lie. Why do you want to become a liar? Therefore you can be truthful and avoid Enlightenment.
Being enlightened doesn't mean that you are happy all of the time. This is one of the illusions of Enlightenment. Therefore, if you want to be happy all of the time, you should not be enlightened. Enlightenment leads to intense frustration. It gives the word new character. Therefore, if you want to avoid frustration you should definitely avoid Enlightenment.
Enlightenment, liberation, self-realization, or whatever we choose to call it, can't be very good. Otherwise more people would seriously endeavor to experience it or become it. Clearly the world is filled with persons who are wise. We know that the more years you live in this world, the more you know, the smarter you are. We learn from our experiences, and judging from the learned world and the knowledge that the elderly possess, we know that Enlightenment can be of little value because very few people are enlightened and even fewer younger people are enlightened. So if youth has anything to teach us, it is to avoid Enlightenment at all cost. If old age has anything to teach us, it is to avoid Enlightenment in most cases. And there is nothing good about middle age – we all know that. That's the time when people raise families as opposed to raising their kundalini.
The world has never cared much for Enlightenment. If we use history as an example, we see that the dominant themes that seem to repeat again and again historically are oppression, violence, hatred, and a tremendous appreciation, on the part of almost all, even those who oppress, hate and are violent, of beauty. This is a strange dichotomy. If we consider those who are successful in the world. We will find that very often they are unenlightened. As a matter of fact, judging by worldly standards, most people who have obtained Enlightenment have missed worldly success.
What few misfits seriously seek Enlightenment? There are many who dabble, but what few are really interested in Enlightenment? If we can do a profile, is there something that they have in common? Did they have a bad childhood? Is there a certain socioeconomic structure that they grew out of? Why should they be so dissatisfied with all of what the world has to offer that they seek something else? We know their reasons. They say that the world is full of suffering, frustration; that all human beings are bound by desires and that these desires lead them to experience craving, some fleeting satisfaction, followed by pain. That to live in the desiring physical consciousness is not to experience the ultimate bliss.
It might be better for the human race to eradicate these few individuals, to round them all up, and take them to the top of a mountain and just let them sit there and meditate their little hearts out. Then the rest of the world could just go on with life, with earning a living, and procreation – the things that count!
Now, it is possible that these few misguided souls who have obtained Enlightenment have had such a massive effect on certain segments of society because they appear to have miraculous powers. We have reports of persons walking on water, flying through the air, and doing many different things. But why should people be so preoccupied with these things? Even if they are obtainable, would they bring happiness? You walk on land now. Would walking on water make you happy? How would the fish feel, looking up seeing all these feet? In short, if God wanted human beings to fly through the air, walk on the water, She would have made it possible, but in her wisdom, she didn't.
There are some people who have spent time with the enlightened teachers, and they claim that spending time with them has changed them. But we must ask ourselves, have these changes been for the better? Some have given up families, careers, and noble occupations to go and be with these enlightened people, because they say that it has brought them a bliss and a knowledge that surpasses understanding.
If we really observed the enlightened, and we separate the enlightened from those who claim to be enlightened and who are not, we will see an interesting phenomenon. We will observe that those who claim to be enlightened very often are socially destructive. They do seem to abuse power or they develop large followings of people. These followers are usually individuals who do not have the power of choice. They are suffering from various problems and are promised instant salvation and give everything for it. Their temporary euphoria seems to pass as mind control takes grip.
You will notice though, historically, that persons who are actually enlightened don't affect people in this way. As a matter of fact, during their lifetime, enlightened people create no social change whatsoever. That is because they make absolutely no demands of the individuals who come to them. As a matter of fact, rather than encourage persons to become examples or replicas of themselves, they do just the opposite. They suggest that people have to find truth in their own way and must be themselves.
Many enlightened teachers have actually chased people away, saying that they should not worry about Enlightenment in this stage in their evolution. Rather they should live in the world, and work in the world, because it is not time yet. It doesn't really seem that enlightened people are socially a threat to the world, if they are truly enlightened. But if they are not truly enlightened, at times they are a great threat to society and the people who come to them. Actual enlightened people seem to be relatively harmless initially. However, very often after they are dead, they seem to yield greater effect. But we can discount this. Perhaps, it is just that the followers of these people interpret to their own liking what the enlightened person has said, and use it to promote their own ideas for social change. But the enlightened people seem to be relatively harmless. If we were to paraphrase what they say, we would say: "Be absorbed, be absorbed in eternal consciousness."
This world is as a grain of salt is to the desert. A desert in which many camels pass, and if you were to ride such a camel, across such a desert and come to a palm tree. You might notice a crow, landing on the palm tree, and a coconut falling from the palm tree. From your advantage point on the camel's back, you might see the crow landing on the palm tree and watch the coconut fall. You might assume that because the crow landed on the tree the coconut fell. However as it may be, the coconut might just have been falling just as the time the crow stopped by. So, which one is right? This is the kind of thing that enlightened people talk about. That's why they are absolutely no social threat. It's like reading the Silver Surver by Marvel Comics.
Now in defense of the Enlightened, and in defense of the ideal of becoming enlightened. We could say that it is observable that people who seek Enlightenment do go through major transpositions in terms of their personality structures and lifestyles. Many of them claim to be happier and more euphoric. They have a feeling of well-being which not only endures at times of adversity, but actually, at times, seems to increase. While they still suffer the pains and joys of human existence, they say that in their meditation and in their selfless giving, they come to understandings of the nature of existence. While they cannot substantiate their claims, we cannot necessarily disagree, since their journeys and sojourns are inward and cannot be quantified and measured.
For a moment, let's enter into the world of suppose. Let's dream along for a moment, and let's try to understand what is the nature of spiritual evolution. Spiritual evolution is a process which includes meditation. The art of meditation is the art of silence. In spite of all obstacles, in spite of all frustrations, one learns with patience and perseverance to quiet the mind. The mind is stimulated by many things: by the world vibratory forces, society, past conditioning, and desires. But with patience and practice one can still the mind. When the mind becomes absolutely calm and quiet like a lake without ripples, one can see Eternity.
Most people in this world are very sad; even in their relative happiness, they are unhappy. Their happiness is fleeting; they themselves are fleeting. The generations come and the generations go; the worlds come and the worlds go. There seems at times to be no sense to it and perhaps there isn't. Yet in that stillness, in that region of life that lies just beyond the corner of awareness, there is a sense of perfection. There is perfection.
One can choose to pass through this life going through the various experiences that one must go through, be enlightened, unenlightened or somewhat in the middle. You can go through this world with joy and belief or you can go through this world with doubt and frustration. At the end, in either case, one might say cynically that you will die. What was the difference? The difference was in the experience of the moment.
When you meditate, you take the time to go within yourself each day to that still point, where the mind becomes completely quiet, where nature dissolves. Then we see that what we thought was reality was partiality, a dream, insubstantial. While in the dream, as you know, the dream seems perfectly real. We have no sense that we are in a dream. When we meditate, we gain the sense that life is a dream. When we come to that basic appreciation that life is a dream, we can then set our dreaming up. We can learn to dream different dreams if we choose to, or we can go beyond the dream itself.
There are four levels of consciousness: the waking state, the dreaming state, the deep sleep state, and the fourth level of ecstasy or superconscious awareness. Each person chooses in any given lifetime, at any given moment, what they wish. And what they wish is granted, not so much in the sense of the physical, but in the sense of the consciousness. You can choose to experience the world and play in its gardens of delight, and when the winter comes it all goes away, as do you. The winter of our death is followed by the spring of our rebirth, the joyous cycle of existence in which the pure beauty of the cycle is enough to sustain us, to comfort us. There is a wisdom in nature; we are nature. You can enter into the dream, the endless planes of reality, endless cycles of existence, endless worlds, coexisting, simultaneously existing, existing in linear fashion, not existing, existences that don't exist, and can't exist. Beyond the mind's comprehension, we can journey and experience and become these realities or move through them in the world of the dream.
We can take dreaming, dreaming as in when we are sleep as night dreaming, and bring it into the daylight. We can see that there is no difference between being awake and being asleep. We can consciously dream or realize that we have been consciously dreaming all along. Our very self, our very nature, this very light, with all of its importances, is but another dream. But in the dream state we only move from dream to dream, in the waking state we move from waking to sleeping into waking. The deep sleep state is in a sense non-existence; there are no dreams. There is no relative awareness of this world, yet there are subtle impressions: from the seed will come the sprout, the plant, the fruit. Because one is in the deep sleep state this does not mean that one has attained Enlightenment, because something will come forth from it. Just as the ocean is calm, then the ocean becomes violent; so the latent impressions and tendencies from all of our past lives are stored within the individual "jiva" or self. During the deep sleep state the ocean is calm, but these tendencies have not gone away. They are just in a state of stasis, they reawaken with waking. The superconscious on the other hand, is beyond definition or experience in the sense that we must move beyond being an experiencer to know it.
The superconscious is really all that there is, except that the superconscious at times dreams itself into the dreaming state, wakes itself into the waking state, or sleeps itself into the deep sleep state. But to one who has knowledge of the superconscious, who is it, not in theory, but in reality, all the worlds, all the grains of sand, all the camels, coconuts and crows combined, are both real and unreal, and while they appear to be in the dream they are not. They are dreamless sleepers. They walk through this life as in a dream, while waking. They live in a perpetual twilight or a perpetual sunrise, not quite in one world or in another world. We call them "jivamutkas," liberated souls, realized beings, until the time of death, when the final liberation for those who are liberated occurs, and the curtain opens on a new horizon, because for every ending there is a new beginning.
Liberation does not indicate the extinction of the self, rather it indicates total consciousness, complete awareness of all selves, but not in the way that the self can understand or relate to. We seek the sky, that endless sky of becoming, without knowing why. We can assign reasons but that's all we have done. Even to say, it's the trend of evolution, of reincarnation, the will of God, these are all reasons assigned, seats taken in a homeroom class, waiting for the day to progress.
I have to come back to joy, the joy of life, having journeyed to the farthest realities and beyond, having seen and lived in the eternal, and in the finite, ultimately I can only embrace humanity, which is Eternity, and choose to be happy. I see pain and frustration, and ignorance or maya, as opportunities to be happier. To proclaim happiness, to fight for it, which gives it meaning and purpose, in what is otherwise a meaningless and purposeless world.
The final condition of humanity is joy. Humanity will never collectively experience this joy, but yet you as an individual are a collective. You house within you all beings that have ever been or will ever be. When you turn your attention to the skies of Eternity, whether to watch from the finite their infinite beauty or to merge with them, and go beyond the finite and become one with the two sides of the coin. Still there will be joy.
Even if you fight against joy and frustrate yourself and disappoint yourself, still joy will always be beckoning you, always beckoning you. Joy is always there. Because it is the very nature of this transitory life. Pain, anger, frustration, repression, oppression, hate, fear – these qualities do not in any way taint joy. Joy is joy.
There are different notes in the symphony of life. If you focus on them, you will certainly experience a great deal of misery. If you focus on joy, you will become joy. But they can in no way stamp out the flame of joy or belief that our life on this Earth, in this world, is not purposeless. In spite of what we see in the world, which is not always pleasant, as we become mature adults and we look at the nature of our planet, this does not take away from joy; because these are passing shadows, dreams, phantoms in the night, which in the final joy of God consciousness, of merging with that which we really are, will disappear.
The rain comes for several weeks and it may seem as it's always been, but then the sun comes and the rain goes away, and then only the sun exists. This is the nature of the Earth. We experience the sun and the rain; the superconscious is beyond the clouds where there is nothing but sun all of the time. Each one of us has the capability of experiencing that endless light; we are that endless light, except that we forget that sometimes. For every ending there is a new beginning, and thank God for every beginning there is an ending. Because otherwise life would become terribly boring. We would find ourselves in the same condition, watching the same movie. I have seen "The Road Warrior" seven times. But each time it was different, it was never the same. Because I was never the same. Whenever you see someone twice, you've lied to yourself. Because there has never been anything but now. To change your consciousness, to raise your perceptual awareness to bliss, and to be willing to experience the agony of the absolute ecstasy is worth trying. You'll never know until you do, and even then you won't be sure. This is meditation in self-discovery – to be willing to experience so much ecstasy that you die, and to find yourself, a new self, on another shore reunited in this life, but not quite different, yet the same. Again and again, the process, Samadhi, they call it. I call it a good time.
Samsara is Nirvana, Sally is John, or as T.S. Elliot said in Four Quartets, "In my beginning there is my end." So don't be discouraged, and if you are, don't be discouraged that you are discouraged. There is a way out, and the way out is the way in. It is not by running away from the world; nor is it by running toward it. Rather it's by embracing and surrendering to the world. Nature is the guideline and the way. Observe nature, and everything comes into being, exists, and goes into non-being, so simple, so perfect. What software to run the Universe! IBM has a lot to learn. And think about the incredible operating system and high level language, to hold all the worlds in manifestation and to dissolve them, to keep track of your karmic records alone. Endless, countless beings – awesome, totally awesome!
I can only suggest that you learn to be what my friend Theodore Rodki called "a perpetual beginner." Because if you feel that you are knowledgeable, you may be, but to be a perpetual beginner is the happy part. Being a student is much more fun than being a teacher. I think it is always good for the teachers to always be students, because otherwise they forget, and they become very poor teachers. They forget the joy of learning. Enlightenment is not an end product. It is the end of the product, and each step is a step in that direction. When you probe Eternity, when you meditate and obtain Enlightenment, you see that nothing really matters, or that everything matters. You can look at it either way: they are both frames of reference. Beyond that is Nirvana
Life is joy; even if you are not experiencing it, it does not mean that it is not so. Someone may love you and you might not see that. That doesn't mean that he or she doesn't love you. So while you go through the bardo of transitory experiences, the emotional whirlpool and hysterectomies of existence; while you may get down on yourself and complain and feel crummy, you know all along that you are good. That you are light, and that in spite of yourself you will succeed.
So try and be among the happy. It's a thriving minority. To be happy all you have to do is grin when it hurts, and it hurts sometimes. We have no control over anything since we are not the doer: we are the done, or done for, as some would say. Try not to worry so much. All the time you worry, you worry about the present, you worry about the past, you worry about the future. All your worrying what will it do? Give you ulcers. If you must worry, worry about happy things. You might worry that you might become quite happy and it might last. You might worry that you will take the energy from meditation and transform it, and use it in your life with your career and your personal relationships and become very successful – which is very easy. You might worry that you might even realize God. These are terrible things to worry about, but they are happier things to worry about.
You can worry that you are going to be audited by the IRS, but your worries won't bring the audit closer or push it back further. You might worry that you will attain self-realization sooner than you have expected. Your worries won't bring it about, but it is a nicer field of attention, it's a nicer dream. If you must experience a nightmare, why not enjoy it? Why go to a horror movie and be horrified? Why not see it as a great comedy? You can do the same thing with life.
Humor is the ultimate liberator. Therefore if you are an advanced spiritual seeker you will see many Peter Seller movies. There is much to be learned from laughing. As you know most people laugh at misfortune, because it makes them feel macho, and superior to others. Naturally the wheel of change will revolve and one day they will find themselves in the position of the ones they laugh at. Knowing this in advance it might be wise not to laugh at others but at ourselves. It is the laughter and the humor that creates balance in our being, and even without a reason, it just is in itself a nicer dream.
You can't stop or start yourself: you are an endless reality. You are the ultimate Brahman. So don't try so hard. There is a natural flow of light within each one of us, and if you enter into that flow of light you don't need to try so hard. Meditation is spontaneous. Spiritual discovery is spontaneous. That's when it's best, like sex, right? I was going to be asked that in a panel show I didn't attend. "Are sex and meditation the same?" I said. "Absolutely not, you can meditate by yourself." Now, I realize there is . . . but I don't think that's what they meant. So, if I were to sum all of these up, I'd be in terrible trouble. Instead I would just say: don't try so hard, don't be so hard on yourselves, don't hate yourselves so much, it doesn't bring about a quicker realization.
You are here in this world to learn self-acceptance, the acceptance of your body even though it's passing, and yet it is eternal. Because it is eternal in the moment; the moments are eternal they never end. We will always be, we have always been, in this condition, in this consciousness, and in all consciousness. You are all those who have obtained Enlightenment and ever will. You are the past, the present and the future, and that which lies beyond.
Try to have more fun with your self-discovery. It doesn't have to be that heavy. Find that subtle flow of light within yourself through experimenting. Don't be afraid to reach and be different. Don't be afraid to be the same. Find what works; trust yourself. If you can't trust yourself who can you trust?
Life can be quite wonderful and is. More people love you than you realize; you just don't want to see, yet. The self veils itself in countless forms, only to unveil itself at a later date. So don't be frustrated. Just live while there is life. That's really more than enough. If you find yourself walking my way, the way of meditation, then you will practice stillness, self-giving; you'll enjoy humility, purity and beauty. You'll go beyond the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states to the consciousness of the absolute reality, and see that you were always there; that there never was a there. But in that stillness is perfection, and in the physical there is perfection too. They are not different, they are the same.